UFC boss Dana White demurred from punishing fighter Colby Covington after the fighter was accused of racism against a black opponent.
While in Abu Dhabi to promote the upcoming UFC 253 card on “Fight Island,” White was asked about Covington’s comments delivered after he beat Tyron Woodley, ESPN reported.
“These guys all have their own causes, things, their own beliefs. We don’t muzzle anybody here,” White said when asked about Covington’s comments to Nigeria-born fighter Kamaru Usman. “We let everybody speak their mind. I don’t know what he said that was racist. I don’t know if I heard anything racist that he said.”
White also told the press members that he “wasn’t going to play games” with them when they asked if he agreed with Covington’s comments.
Covington was accused of racism when he taunted Usman’s heritage by asking if the fighter got a message from his “little tribe” using “smoke signals.” Several fighters slammed Covington accusing Woodley — who opened last week’s fight with Black Lives Matter sloganeering — of being “a communist, a Marxist, [someone] standing up for lifelong criminals.”
UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, in particular, slammed Covington as a “racist.”
“It just shows you the landscape of the media, what it is right now,” Adesanya said. “I made a joke about dropping [Yoel] Romero like the Twin Towers and everyone lost their mind, even if I said it was a joke and it was pretty funny, but people took it as I was being offensive and like, digging — but I was making a joke.”
“This guy [Covington] has directly insulted my culture, my brother, and many other cultures, and no one says anything, but it just shows you a mirror. Shows you a mirror to you guys. So, yeah. I don’t really care. Kamaru Usman broke his jaw [when they fought in 2019], so I don’t really care,” Adesanya added.
Bantamweight Sijara Eubanks was even more explicit. Covington, Eubanks said, is an “outright racist.”
“Let’s be real, first, and foremost. It wasn’t ‘unfortunate.’ It was flat-out racist. It was racist. It was disgusting,” Eubanks said. “It was quite frankly disappointing, but at the same time, the one thing I appreciate is the UFC lets whoever say whatever. They have never muzzled us as fighters. If you want to talk, if you don’t want to talk, if you want to be political, if you don’t want to be political, I have to appreciate the company lets us say what we want.”
“But to be fair, I think guys that talk like Mike Perry [a UFC fighter who has used the N-word publicly] and Colby Covington, I think a lot of the things they say are racist and disgusting and should be reported as such, instead of ‘unfortunate’ or ‘controversial.’ It’s racist,” Eubanks said.
Featherweight Hakeem Dawodu also went on the attack accusing Covington of “causing more and more divide amongst the people.”
Dawodu slammed Covington further, saying, “That’s how he gets down, but I’m not really with that, and I took offense to that for sure,” He continued. “[The UFC] was almost worried about my walkout song, and he’s gonna be saying stuff like that? That’s crazy.”
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